Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier explained yesterday during his telephone news conference why the Canadiens opted to go with a pair of young untested players in the Jaroslav Halak trade than opt for proven veterans.
“You can get established players, but you can also get them in unrestricted free agency July first. But, when you get young guys that can last a long time with your franchise and build themselves as part of the community and the team, you have to look at those players. They’re very important to acquire when you have a chance to do it.”
For those who have been paying attention, this was a philosophy embedded by Bob Gainey. Gauthier has seen no reason to change it. The theory being, build the farm system and all else will follow. Under Gainey, the Canadiens went from having half sponsorship of an American Hockey League franchise to full sponsorship of the Hamilton Bulldogs plus an agreement to supply players for a second team based in Cincinnati of the East Coast Hockey League. What the policy has done is produce a steady stream of prospects. Seventeen members of the Hamilton Bulldogs played for the Canadiens at one time or the other last season.
Gauthier explained how the Canadiens philosophy translated into the Jaroslav Halak trade in return for two prospects.
“In the case of these two players (Lars Eller & Ian Schultz), they add to a good list of young players, especially those who played in Hamilton and had a lot of success. So, we’ll have a lot of players knocking on the door at training camp. It’s exciting to have that because, I think most of you (the media) have understood, with the new cap system, the veteran top-end players on the club take so much money off your payroll that you’re going to need some good young players Acquiring a player like Lars Eller, who’s just about ready to play is important because he’s going to be good for a long time, but at first he won’t cost too much.
The best example I can give you is the Chicago Black Hawks. Guys like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were still under entry-level contracts and it has enabled the Black Hawks to build around them with a lot of money available to get them established players.
That’s the type of manoevering that we have to do in this new cap system. And to acquire good young players that will play for you, at first, under entry level contracts, even in a year when they don’t have arbitration rights, that becomes very, very imporatn for everything.